The Office ‘Murder’ Q&A with Danny Chun

Q. How is writing for a show like the office different than writing for a cartoon like the Simpsons? What things did you learn in your previous role that helped you pen this episode? | AJ

Danny: Both shows rely a lot on a writers’ room, but there are some huge differences.

The Simpsons is usually written about a year or two in advance, due to the time it takes to animate. It allows for much more re-writing, whereas The Office tends to rely more on high quality writers’ drafts that ideally don’t need much re-writing.

Also, The Simpsons is kind of simpler production-wise — you don’t have wardrobe, or makeup, or props. Just animators. So if you want Homer to ride in on an elephant, he can very easily do so. He’d probably be so fat that the elephant’s knees buckle — I can picture it now!!!

As for what I learned that helps me now … I think I became a much stronger joke writer at The Simpsons. They just value the individual joke-unit so highly. I also learned to really use my imagination to the max — you have so few limits in animation, so you can really loosen up and take some wild swings.

Initially that felt like a hindrance here at The Office, which is very observational and real, but I’ve learned how to apply it. I guess it especially came in handy for an episode like Murder, which is inherently kind of broad and goofy.

Q. Just how much blooper footage are we going to see from this episode alone? | Monica

Danny: No clue how much will be released, but there’s a lot. The actors really seemed to enjoy doing the accents and hearing everyone else’s.

One moment that I remember a lot of the actors laughing at was when Erin is agreeing to the threesome, and Andy does that hilariously pained smile behind her. I think pretty much anyone who wasn’t on camera was just craning their neck, trying to see Ed’s face.
 
Q. Is it becoming a running gag that Ryan always has a new and weird look going each week? Whose idea was it for Ryan’s latest outfit? | Roscoet

Danny: I’d imagine the outfit was a collaboration between the wardrobe people and BJ.

But as you may know, this season Ryan has become more pretentious (his photography being the main example). He just seems like the kind of guy who would experiment with new looks and change his persona based on which way the wind is blowing. 


Q. How’d you decide on the Shawn Mullins song? | DJ Jazzy Flax

Danny: I figured Michael would be unable to console himself in this time of stress, so he’d try external tactics, like listening to reassuring music. And I thought Michael would probably have loved top 40 pop from the 90s. And I figured the song would have to be devoid of subtext. That’s why Lullaby felt like a fit.

There was a line that got cut, where Michael says to Jim, “Part of me wants to believe Shawn Mullins, and part of me thinks that’s idiotic. Do you know if he’s considered wise?” I wish that had made it.

22 comments

  1. Great interview! Thanks, Danny! I agree that one of the best lines from Thursday was “Just poopin’. You know how I be.” I chuckle often while I watch TV, but rarely do I laugh out loud. That was an LOL moment.

  2. Thank you for answering questions! And I agree with you and #1. “Just poopin’, you know how I be” was awesome.

  3. Thanks so much Danny! really funny answers and very informative. I’m also a part of the large group of people who “lol’ed” at “just pooping, you know how I be” It was so unexpected.

  4. These were the best As of any Q&A ever. Thanks so much for all of the great behind the scenes info–it was really funny and interesting! I’d think I’d even be happy to read Danny Chun’s to-do list or grocery list any day–his writing is so fun to read! The collaborative, generous efforts that go into the scripts are so impressive. I loved this episode, it was so funny and well done. (I wish that Michael’s line about Shawn Mullins had been in the final cut too!)

  5. LOL i thought that i was the only one who ROTFL when andy is talking to michael about his standup comedy

  6. I literally died laughing when I was reading the Southern pun names. Being from the south, I love that he made a pun using the name of the city where I live. Awesome. And the accents cracked me up too, mostly with how far off some were.

  7. Awesome interview! He’s hilarious! Thanks Danny for answering our questions!

    I agree with #7! Someone should have told him that the shorthand for Jim and Pam is JAM! :D

  8. #7 and #12: Are you familiar with sarcasm? ;) Lol. I’m pretty sure he was being ironic. This is an Office writer after all.

    But yeah, thank you so much Danny Chun! GREAT Q&A, and keep up the good work!

  9. Ahhhh!! Oh my goodness :D All my questions were answered! Thank you so much Danny and Tanster. I’ll just believe the hamster was really named Tina. lol

  10. Danny, thanks for doing the Q&A, you are such a wonderful asset to The Office team!

    I love that your episode is titled MURDER – every time I see that, I think it’s called MUKDUK :)

    *** You guys, I’m pretty sure he was being funny re. JH & P ***

  11. I’m pretty sure Danny knows about the term ‘JAM’. :)

    Thanks DChun! Loved the episode and the Q&A!

  12. What a fantastic, funny, in-depth Q&A! The Southern pun names are so great – I think Carl Erdgreens is my favorite. And I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at the Michael line about Shawn Mullins. I wish that had made it, too.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this for us, Danny! Awesome read. :)

  13. Thanks for taking the time to do a Q&A Danny! And thanks for answering one of my questions! Wooo! A first for me!

    I loved all the pun names as well. So clever!

    And it’s a shame Michael’s line about Shawn Mullin’s didn’t make it into the ep. It was a good one.

    (And yeah, I think he was joking about the JAM term, too.)

  14. I agree – the Q&A was just as funny as the episode! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud at a Q&A. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Danny’s name in the writing credits more often. Thanks for answering my question too. (You’re sure the hamster wasn’t named “Stapler”?)
    :)

  15. Thanks for answering my question, Danny! It’s awesome that an Office writer acknowledged my existence! I loved the answers. One of the funniest Q&As ever. I love Rainn’s response.

  16. The Murder Mystery episode was one of my favorites; it was just too much fun. They did such a great job with everything, awesome work everyone.

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